Friday, January 2, 2015

Summer Reading Reviews

Here's my summer reading so far:

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
I grabbed this from the library because I needed a book to read on the plane. The book centres around  a girl, Rose, who discovers she can taste the emotions (and more) of the people involved in making the food she eats. This 'gift' takes her into the secrets of family members and dominates the way she lives. The book is also centred around her family and struggles they have to relate to one another. The journey each member of the family is on and Rose's insights are difficult and startling and you come to care for them as the story unfolds.

On the whole I found this an engaging read although it becomes weirder as the story continues and I found the ending part a little perplexing. Definitely some mind bending but a thoughtful read and probably one that would be a good discussion starter for a book group.

Details - Anchor Books, April 2011 RRP $15.00US

The Dirty Chef by Matthew Evans
This book outlines the journey that Matthew Evans takes as he moves to Tasmania to set up his own small holding and transitions his life from chef, food critic, to food writer, to farmer and foodie. This transition happens under the eyes of the camera as he films the Gourmet Farmer series. I really enjoyed this book - if nothing else it is a fabulous ad for Tasmanian tourism! The country he describes, the food, the relationship with how the food is produced is all interesting, challenging but not preachy.

There are recipes included at the end of each chapter as well which is a nice little bonus. I so enjoyed reading this book it is well written and self-effacing enough that it comes across as inviting rather than arrogant. A perfect summer read for anyone wanting to have a more intentional relationship with food and eating in 2015.

Details - Allen & Unwin, Dec 2014 RRP $ 22.99 also available as an ebook

Outside The Lines By Amy Hatvany

In 2014 I read Safe With Me by the same author and really enjoyed it. Like her previous book Hatvany wades into difficult territory dealing with mental health issues and how they can tear a family apart. What I so enjoyed about this novel was that it manages to address issues of what society in general feels are acceptable ways of living and behaving and gently challenges the rights of individuals to also find their own path even if it falls 'outside the lines.'

The characters feel real and engaging and the grief of a family torn apart and a father lost are told with humanity and hope. And there's some nice romance too just to soften the intensity of the general narrative.

The story is told from 2 perspectives - the father David and his daughter Eden. Hatvany is an excellent author and she tells a good story. Her work is readable and thought provoking which I really like. Perfect for a holiday read that is easy to read but thoughtful as well.

Details - Allen & Unwin, Jan 2015 RRP$29.99 also available as an ebook

Nanny Confidential by Philippa Christian
Just looking at the cover of this book (naughty right?) you know it is going to be pure escapist chic lit. The novel follows the life of Lindsay Starwood(!) as a nanny to the super rich and famous. Living a life on a ridiculous salary with amazing perks and equally ridiculous expectations from her clientele.

As I read the book I did find myself thinking it was somewhat over the top and extreme in terms of the scenarios only to discover that the author has previously been a nanny for the rich and famous in all the kind of locations around the world you might expect - so I guess those crazy scenarios are much more fact based than they might seem.

As a quick read this book was entertaining. It is definitely chic lit and is the perfect summer read for any lover of the rich and famous gossip mags who'd like to immerse themselves in the lifestyle for longer. It's also a good reminder that a) those celebs have a LOT of help to make themselves appear as put together and glamorous as they do and b) as ridiculous as the lifestyle seems to me these are still real people with insecurities and hang ups who are trying to do life the best they can.

Details - Allen & Unwin, Dec 2014 RR$24.99 also available as an ebook

What is on your stack of summer reading?
Allen & Unwin titles provided to me for reviewing at my request.

love you more than a stack of must reads beside the bed xxx